If you’re an avid traveler and photographer looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, consider visiting Nothern Chile during its rare desert bloom and for its unparalleled astrophotography opportunities. The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the driest deserts in the world and has some of the clearest skies for astrophotography. While most people know about Chile for Patagonia and Easter Island (Rapa Nui), the Atacama Desert is a hidden gem filled with unique experiences.
Located in South America, Chile is home to a diverse range of landscapes, from the Atacama Desert in the north to the Patagonian fjords in the south. One of the most unique and breathtaking natural phenomena in Chile is the blooming of the Atacama Desert flowers, also officially known as “Desierto Florido.” This bloom only occurs every 5-7 years, and explodes like a carpet of color over the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world!
Chile’s Atacama Desert is an otherworldly landscape of salt flats, geysers, and towering volcanoes. There are over 200 species of desert flowers, with their delicate petals and bright colors, which are a truly magical sight to behold! To catch a glimpse of these rare flowers in bloom, the best time to visit is between September and November. I had the opportunity to see the flowers just as they started to bloom, but according to scientists’ predictions, they were supposed to be at peak the week I visited. All that means is another trip will be in the works in five years!
The beauty of Chile doesn’t end with its desert bloom. The country is also known for its exceptional astrophotography opportunities, probably THE BEST in the world. It was here I was able to photograph the full arch of the Milky Way for the first time under the direction of famed astronomer, Yuri Beletsky, and meteorologist, Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn. The clear skies and lack of light pollution make Chile the perfect destination for stargazers and photographers alike. To get to the Atacama Desert take a local flight from Santiago to Copiapo, and book a hotel there as a centralized location to different spots.
To make the most of your trip to Chile, it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for the challenges of traveling to a desert environment. Pack comfortable clothing for every season since the weather can go from hot during the day to freezing at night, and be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen. It’s recommended to hire a local guide as they can help you navigate the desert and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. When I went to the altiplano part of the Atacama Desert to see sights like flamingoes walking on a frozen Laguna Santa Rosa, Ojos del Salado, the tallest volcano in the world, epic salt lagoons, and the bluest water at Laguna Verde, I was taken by Turismo Atacamensis, a tour group run by two mountaineering brothers, Alvaro and Gabriel.
Overall, a trip to Chile is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that combines natural geographical beauty and thrilling astrophotography. Don’t miss out on the chance to witness the magical blooming of the Atacama Desert flowers and capture the wonder of the night sky in this stunning South American destination!
Whenever I travel internationally, I ALWAYS get supplemental travel insurance to the coverage I have from my travel credit cards. The main reason is for medical purposes because if something happens while overseas, you don’t want to be SOL or stuck with some crazy bill. It’s not expensive and gives peace of mind to know medical expenses are covered should any negative situation happen. I typically shop around insurance companies to compare prices, and went with Safety Wing’s Nomad Insurance.
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